By N.M. Cedeño
Do you enjoy speculative fiction? Do you know what speculative fiction is?
The dictionary defines speculative fiction as “a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements.” The genre is an umbrella under which lies science fiction, fantasy, and even some kinds of horror. From fairy tales to space operas, from paranormal stories to alternative histories, any kind of fiction containing imagined elements that exist outside of known reality can be classified as speculative fiction. Many well-known books and series fall into this category.
Works of dystopian fiction like Brave New World by Huxley, 1984 by Orwell, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are speculative fiction. The Hunger Games dystopian series is speculative fiction.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s work of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is speculative fiction.
Stephen King’s horror novel It and his time travel novel 11/22/63 are speculative fiction.
Star Wars, Buck Rogers, and other space operas are speculative fiction.
The Twilight romance series featuring werewolves and vampires is speculative fiction.
The Harry Potter fantasy series is speculative fiction.
The Martian, a work of hard science fiction by Andy Weir, is speculative fiction.
Janet Evanovich’s Lizzy and Diesel urban fantasy series is speculative fiction.
Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas paranormal thriller series is speculative fiction.
Wonder Woman and other superhero stories are speculative fiction.
Irish folk tales about leprechauns or banshees are speculative fiction.
Given all the stories and genres that can be classified as speculative fiction, it might be easier to ask what isn’t speculative fiction than to go through all the examples of what it is. If a work of fiction is entirely realistic in its setting and involves no magical, supernatural, futuristic, or other elements that don’t yet or might never exist, then it isn’t speculative fiction. A mystery, police drama, or romance set in the present day with no imaginary elements added would be categorized as realistic fiction. Horror, thriller, and suspense novels that feature only human evil or terrors that are based in the real world are realistic fiction. A historical drama that accurately reflects life in a given time period would also be realistic fiction.
Speculative fiction allows for flights of imagination, presenting other worlds, dream worlds, and future worlds rather than depicting the world how it is or was. Realistic fiction stays within the bounds of known reality.
As an author, some of my writing falls under the mantle of speculative fiction. My Bad Vibes Removal Services paranormal mysteries featuring Lea, a woman who can see and talk to ghosts, definitely fits into the category. My romantic suspense / mystery novel All in Her Head also features paranormal elements.
My novel For the Children’s Sake is a murder mystery featuring an imaginary medical condition where some people’s skin oils cause other people to go into anaphylactic shock and die. That imaginary condition makes the book speculative fiction, even though the rest of the book is based in reality.
Several of my short stories are classified as social science fiction, set in possible future worlds. For example, my short story entitled A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy is a private detective story set in a world with no privacy rights.
My latest release is also a work of science fiction. The Wrong Side of History is currently available in the October 2021 issue of After Dinner Conversation: Philosophy and Ethics Short Story Magazine. The Wrong Side of History is a tale of blackmail set in a world recovering from a near-extinction event and featuring a 130-year-old politician trying to keep his legacy intact in a world with values that differ widely from those considered acceptable in his youth.
So back to the original question. Do you enjoy speculative fiction?
N. M. Cedeño is a short story writer and novelist living in Texas. She is currently working on a paranormal mystery series called Bad Vibes Removal Services. Ms. Cedeño is active in Sisters in Crime- Heart of Texas Chapter. Find out more at nmcedeno.com.